This post was originally published on December 27th. 2016.
When the snow begins falling and the temperatures drop, it’s easy to find ourselves spending most of the short winter days indoors with a pair of fuzzy socks. However, instead of giving up, packing it in, and silently binge-watching online TV until the first flowers bloom in April, try embracing the snow! Michigan is one of the few places on Earth blessed with four beautiful seasons that provide Michiganders with an ever-changing landscape.
How do you embrace our frozen tundra wonderland?
Take a Winter Road Trip
One of the best road trips I’ve ever been on is to Munising in late February. The temperature was twenty below zero, the snow was falling at a rapid pace, and the emergency services shut down all roads in and out of the town. Was it a little nerve-wracking? Yeah. Was it an insanely fun experience? Absolutely.
Here’s my recommendation: Wait for the moment a winter storm is approaching, head “Up North” before it hits, then spend the day snowshoeing, driving freshly-plowed roads lined with pine trees blanketed in snow, and talking long walks that leave your eyelashes crusted in snow.
Visit the Touristy Towns
In the peak of summer, towns like Grand Haven, Traverse City, and Petoskey are packed with vacationers ready to hit the beach. During winter months, the normally crowded streets turn into something of a ghost town. You can stroll the shops, eat at your favorite restaurants, and walk the pier without passing another car in town.
Crowded summer beaches are a part of Michigan life, but the feeling of having your favorite lakeshore town completely to yourself is a truly satisfying experience. Not to mention, the small businesses in these towns depend on summer traffic to survive the winter, which is why they will greatly appreciate your winter visit. You’re not just curing yourself of the winter blues, you’re helping the local economy!
Ski or Snowboard
With dozens of ski hills across the state, one is never too far to carve their way down a mountain (or a really big hill). Winter skiing is an activity for all ages, and it is the perfect way to incorporate a winter family getaway filled with fun.
Many of the ski resorts also offer heated pools, hot tubs, and saunas to guests. After a long day on the slopes, there is truly nothing better than letting your muscles soak in a hot tub under the stars.
For those not fond of skiing or snowboarding, try winter tubing. It is common to find sledding hills at ski resorts. It offers a fun and thrilling alternative for those not keen on catching the fresh powder.
Head to the Great Lakes
Think the coast is just for the sun? No way!
Frozen beaches and ice-crusted lighthouses are some of the most beautiful sites to visit. On a cold weekend, drive up the coast to do a lighthouse tour. You’d be surprised how different they look in January!
Harsh weather and cold temperature also help create a phenomenon known as the “Michigan Ice Caves.” If you never witnessed the Eben Ice Caves or Grand Island Ice Caves, add them to your list. Their breathtaking beauty has caught the interest of The National Geographic, Huffington Post, and other international news outlets.
The best time to visit these caves is in mid-February. By this time, the ice has had plenty of cold weather to be safe enough to visit.
Experience the Winter Snow-Glow
The night after a winter storm, head out for a midnight stroll in the woods. The thick white snow reflects light, making the entire sky lighter than normal. Even with no moon, you can see perfectly in the middle of the night.
The best places to experience an authentic Michigan snow-glow are the Manistee National Forest or deep in the Upper Peninsula. The further from city life, the better and more peaceful the walk becomes.
Hike to Frozen Waterfalls
Have you ever hugged a waterfall? Thought it wasn’t possible? You just didn’t visit at the right time.
A frozen waterfall is one of the most unique, beautiful sights I’ve witnessed. Our cold weather might not be the best thing for our cars, pipes, or fingers, but it is perfect for stopping a waterfall completely in its tracks.
Munising Falls is a great example of a must-see frozen waterfall. On hot summer days, visitors might stand under the falls to cool off. In the winter, you can use the frozen falls as a backrest as you sit and take in the surrounding beauty.
Whether summer, spring, autumn, or winter, Michigan holds a unique beauty found nowhere else in the world. We may not all like snow, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy it. The next time a storm is forecasted in the future, try to think of how great the ski slopes will be, not about how difficult it will be to scrape off your car in the morning. What are your favorite ways to make the most of Michigan winters?